Manchester United return to action following a quiet January transfer window and the winter break, with an FA Cup fourth round tie against Middlesbrough tonight (Friday).
United narrowly beat Aston Villa in a cagey third round tie last month and will be hoping they can progress to the next round with a win over promotion-chasing Middlesbrough, who come into this game having won four of their last five games in the Championship.
Paul Pogba is set to feature in United’s squad for the first time since November after recovering from a thigh injury, but both Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard will not be a part of Ralf Rangnick’s squad.
Rangnick revealed in his pre-Middlesbrough press conference that Cavani had requested additional time at home in Uruguay and will not return until the weekend, while Lingard asked for time to ‘clear his head’ after a transfer deadline day move did not materialize.
So, what line-ups will both teams select? And, what could the final score be?
We used FIFA 22 to get a score prediction for United versus Middlesbrough on Monday and this is what happened…
Man United v Middlesbrough score predicted by simulation
We used kick-off mode in FIFA 22, but didn’t select a team to control, we then selected the teams and watched the match play out by itself, to give us a score prediction.
We predict that United could set up in a 4-3-3 formation, with their line-up as follows: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Jones, Maguire, Shaw; Matic, McTominay, Pogba; Rashford, Ronaldo, Sancho.
We predict that Middlesbrough could set up in a 5-3-2 formation, with their line-up as follows: Lumley; Jones, McNair, Bamba, Fry, Taylor; McGree, Crook, Tavernier; Sporar, Balogun.
Middlesbrough threatened early on through Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun as the youngster’s strike from the edge of the box was tipped around the post by Henderson.
Former United defender Paddy McNair put in a number of strong tackles on Rashford and Ronaldo as United started to gain control of the game and create chances, but the Championship side stood firm and refused to give in, continuing to frustrate the hosts.
Ronaldo pulled off a spectacular bicycle kick just inside the penalty box after Sancho’s looping cross found the Portuguese striker, but Ronaldo was denied a brilliant goal after Joe Lumley tipped the ball onto the crossbar at full stretch.
Just five minutes before half-time, Rashford put United 1-0 up with a wonderful chipped effort from a tight angle, after Luke Shaw had set the 24-year-old away with a brilliant pass on the counter-attack.
Rashford drove forward into the Middlesbrough half, beating Sol Bamba for pace before committing Lumley and dinking the ball over him into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
United struck the post early in the second half as Rashford’s whipped effort from just inside the penalty box cannoned back into play, with Sancho unable to turn in the rebound as United looked to double their lead and gain some breathing room.
Henderson kept the score at 1-0 heading into the final 20 minutes after producing a brilliant reaction save down to his left, palming the ball behind for a corner after Andraz Sporar’s strike almost caught the 24-year-old ‘keeper out.
Ronaldo eventually got his goal in the 75th minute with a powerful strike that gave Lumley no chance of stopping, following a smart through ball played by Scottish midfielder Scott McTominay.
The soon to be 37-year-old found some space between the Middlesbrough defensive line and drove forward with the ball, holding off Dael Fry and firing the ball past Lumley as United looked to have sealed their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup .
Ronaldo scored his second and United’s third with just three minutes to play in typical Ronaldo fashion, picking the ball up inside the Boro half, beating two players with some nice footwork and then whipping the ball into the far corner.
The fine solo effort capped off a brilliant night for United as they cruised into the FA Cup fifth round.
FIFA 22 predicted final score: Manchester United 3-0 Middlesbrough
Here are the full-time match stats.
FIFA 22 predicts that United will be put under pressure by the Championship side early on but could find a breakthrough just before half-time, before sealing the win and progression into the FA Cup fifth round thanks to a Ronaldo brace in the final 20 minutes.
Phil Jones looked comfortable in defense once again as United kept back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season, whilst Pogba also impressed on his return to the first team.
What do you think the final score will be? Let us know in the comments!
FIFA 22 is available now on all platforms, including PlayStation 5 (PS5), Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PlayStation 4 (PS4), Xbox One, PC and Stadia.
Sign up to our United newsletter so you never miss an update from Old Trafford this season.